There would be no Malcolm (Tom Payne), the Prodigal Son, without Martin (Michael Sheen). It’s something that he has been struggling with since childhood, but there is no escaping your past, or your parents. Even though Martin is a psychopath, there was a time when he was a loving father and devoted husband. (Spoilers Ahead)
Time is of the essence
Dire circumstances call for desperate measures, so it comes as no surprise that Malcolm is struggling with his previous actions. There may be contempt for his father, but does he really want him to die? It’s in these moments that they must change their perspective. He may be a monster, but he was (and perhaps still is) an integral part of their lives.
There is a strong support system surrounding Malcolm; it’s something that he hasn’t experienced before. Dani (Aurora Perrineau) is able to help Malcolm see beyond his circumstances, even if his trauma won’t always allow it. He’s not the only one who has a sob story, everyone these days seems to be dealing with life-altering scenarios. It’s great seeing all these different dynamics, but at the end of the day, they are all the same. They just want peace.
Martin, himself, is battling with his inner demons. Perhaps karma really does exist. It always comes back to the “girl-in-the-box”. We get a small glimpse inside Martin’s head and it is absolutely terrifying. Maybe he doesn’t need a reason behind his murderous intentions, maybe he just wants to watch the world burn.
back to reality
Murder. It’s the one thing that keeps Malcolm going these days, it’s where he truly shines. This case is highly unusual, embalming with the possibility of necrophilia. This prospect not only intrigues Malcolm, but Edrisa (Keiko Agena) is more excited than usual. She exists in the realm of the dead and her enthusiasm, although off-putting to some, is contagious. When it all ties into the lucrative world of funeral directors, the whole team gets to play detective.
Just like anything else in life, there is drama in the afterlife as well. As the team works through a few of their suspects, Edrisa is there as well. We don’t often see her beyond the morgue, but it’s refreshing to see her interact with the rest of the world. She has her quirks, but they are quite endearing and she is an important part of the team. Her connection with Malcolm is on another level, one only the two of them would understand.
Ana Gasteyer guest stars in this episode as Tilda, a funeral director who had a few sexual encounters with their victim. There is a story to all of this. Kevin, who invested in the funeral home, was a good person to them all. An unfortunate accident (a fire), changed everything they had been working for. With the reactions from those involved, they are hiding something significant. Dev (Sathya Sridharan), another person of interest, is sought after as the killer, but instead they find him to be the next victim.
Life is for the living
Edrisa really shines in this episode, and we get the pleasure of seeing all the complexities that make her tick. Originally, she was studying to become a doctor, so at one point, as Malcolm puts it, she was saving people. Although Dev wasn’t quite dead yet, the door was well within his reach. It was up to Edrisa, and only her, to bring him back from the brink. It was emotional, seeing her work through the motions, struggling to bring him back. Malcolm, although encouraging, does it in such a way where it’s almost insulting (which is not his intention). Edrisa is not other people, she’s unique. Dev is given a second chance, but something has changed.
As the team works diligently on another lead, which has been begrudgingly given to them by Tilda, a person beyond their radar is the cause of all of this chaos. Leanne (Ashlie Atkinson), who was a silent partner, wasn’t so sane it seems. Her meticulous process when it came to embalming, was unlike anything they’ve seen before, but her need to spend an uncomfortable amount of time with the bodies struck a nerve. Cue the unfortunate accident and a woman who can’t move on.
Being so close to death changes a person. Malcolm needs to apologize to Edrisa for his insensitive comments. However, she doesn’t wish to speak to him, which is highly unusual for her. Even when she is holding a grudge against him; she dotes over him. Something is wrong, good thing Malcolm picks up on the inflection in her voice. She’s in trouble and instead of waiting for back up, he steps into the conflict head-on. Leanne wants her precious body back, holding Edrisa at gunpoint to get her way.
It’s in these moments where we get to see what each character is made of. Edrisa isn’t a weak individual. She is the last person these dead people have contact with, treating them with dignity, as a person, because that is what they are. She is an extraordinary woman and the team is lucky to have her. Malcolm does what he does best, he uses his words to talk Leanna down, but instead they resonate something in Edrisa who seizes the day and takes a chance. You can’t live in fear forever.
Time to face the nightmare
Jessica (Bellamy Young) has decided to take the fall for Malcolm, she feels the need to protect him, especially when it comes to light that she could be charged with murder. She is never one to ask for help, but she needs it. Ainsley (Halston Sage), who takes after her mother, devises a plan to get her mother the help she needs. That help comes in the form of Martin’s lawyer, a despicable human being, but good at what he does. She knows who she doesn’t want, but there is someone else. Enter Eve (Molly Griggs), she’s not quite out of the picture just yet.
Malcolm is ready to face his father, he has been putting it off, but it’s time. Martin is not like other people; he has control, needs it. Nightmares do nothing to falter his resolve or his insanity. The connection between father and son is able to bring him out of his head and back to the light. He is awake, he is alive, but he is certainly not well.
As Prodigal Son progresses, so do the stories of each character. They all have depth, meaning, and conflict, so as a viewer it’s intriguing to see it all unfold. The writers have a brilliant way of drawing out the audience, giving us these dark and delightful storylines. I am looking forward to seeing more character development, we have merely scratched the surface.
Prodigal Son returns on Monday, March 16 on FOX at 9/8c.
You can find previous reviews for Prodigal Son here.